Maybe June won’t be so hard, after all. The Phillies started a challenging month by blasting the Reds, 17-3, and tying a franchise record with seven homers. It was quite the night for an offense that had averaged less than a homer per game in May and finished the month below the league average in nearly every offensive category.

The Phillies will wrap up the series against the Reds on Wednesday afternoon, and then the real test begins. June includes series against the Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Marlins. The Phillies better have some runs left over after Tuesday.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday during the season. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @matt_breen. Thank you for reading.

— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

Reading Phillies say they ‘have no intention of ever leaving Reading’

The Reading Fightin Phils are not going away without a fight.

Major League Baseball informed the Phillies’ double-A affiliate in March that it had to upgrade its 70-year-old ballpark in Berks County or risk losing its team.

R-Phils general manager Scott Hunsicker said Tuesday night in a YouTube video that the team has until 2023 to improve FirstEnergy Stadium and has already started working with elected officials to secure funding.

“We’ve been here for a very long time, and we have no intention of ever leaving Reading,” Hunsicker said.

MLB overtook the operations of the minor leagues last winter and consolidated each team’s farm system. Each minor-league team is now considered a “licensee” to Major League Baseball and has to meet certain requirements to keep that license. If not, MLB could strip the team of its license and move the team to a different town.

Hunsicker said FirstEnergy Stadium falls short of “player health and wellness requirements” as the locker rooms, weight rooms, and eating spaces need to be improved. The improvements, according to the Reading Eagle, would cost about $15 million.

“We’re hopeful that we can come to a solution,” Hunsicker said. “We know there are other stadiums around the country that might meet those requirements. I know in the state of Pennsylvania, Williamsport and State College were contracted and do not have an affiliated ball club this year. I know Trenton, New Jersey does not have an affiliated double-A ball club any longer. So we are very mindful of the risks here if we are unable to renovate FirstEnergy Stadium. That’s why we’re working hard.”

The Fightin Phils are majority-owned by the Phillies, and the ballpark is owned by the city of Reading. The Phillies have used Reading as a minor-league affiliate since 1967, and bought a majority stake of the team in 2008.

“We’re certainly willing to stand side by side and put in our fair share,” Hunsicker said. “Alongside with the city of Reading and we’re hopeful that the state of Pennsylvania can come and help us as well.”

In April, seven elected officials who represent Berks County sent a letter to Gov. Wolf to support the team’s application for state grant aid and warned the governor that Trenton is “waiting for an opportunity to poach a franchise.”

Trenton lost its double-A affiliation when MLB overtook the minors and is currently hosting the triple-A Buffalo Bisons while the Toronto Blue Jays play their home games in upstate New York. Williamsport and State College also lost their teams and have ballparks that are either newly built or recently renovated.

“It’s nearly impossible to express just how important the Fightin’ Phils are to this community, and that’s why I’ve spent months working with the Governor’s office, the Department of Community & Economic Development and members of the Berks County delegation to address these needed improvements,” State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) wrote on Facebook. “It’s going to take all of us on a local, county and state level to keep the Fightin’ Phils in Reading where they belong.”

The rundown

Where has Nick Maton been? The rookie has struggled to crack the starting lineup since his two-homer game against the Blue Jays, but Joe Girardi hinted that Maton could get a start Wednesday vs. the Reds. Ronald Torreyes, who started again over Maton, homered Tuesday night.

Citizens Bank Park will open to full capacity Friday night. If you’re going to a game this summer, check out this story from Nick Vadala, who has all the information you need from mask wearing to tailgating to rules on bringing in food.

The Phillies are baseball’s worst defensive team, and Scott Lauber writes that it could be hard for their luck to change this season.

Important dates

Today: Spencer Howard starts series finale in Cincinnati, 12:35 p.m.

Tomorrow: The Phillies enjoy their first of seven off-days this month.

Friday: Citizens Bank Park opens at full capacity for series opener vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday: Zach Eflin starts vs. the Nats, 4:05 p.m.

Sunday: Vince Velasquez starts series finale, 1:05 p.m.

Stat of the day

Phillies general manager Lee Thomas said the team was “taking a chance, I guess” when it traded 32 years ago today for John Kruk. It turned out to be a good roll of the dice.

The Phillies sent Chris James — who four days earlier was asked to replace the retired Mike Schmidt at third base — to San Diego on June 2, 1989 for Kruk and Randy Ready. James was stuck in an 0-for-31 slump and Kruk was hitting just .184 for the Padres through his first 31 games of ’89.

But the Phils had some intel. Larry Bowa, then the Phillies third-base coach, had managed Kruk for two seasons in San Diego. A week before the trade, Kruk and Bowa talked in San Diego when the Phillies were in town.

“Definitely, he can come out of it,” Bowa said of Kruk’s slump after the trade was made.

The rest is history. Kruk finished 1989 with a .300 average and hit .309 over six seasons with the Phils. He was a three-time All-Star and an integral part of Macho Row as he helped lead the Phillies to the 1993 National League pennant.

It was a pretty good chance to take.

“I have no problem with being back with Larry Bowa,” Kruk said after the trade. “He was always fair with me, open and honest. He yelled at me and he cursed at me and he called me into his office and wanted to fight. That’s fine. I don’t worry about that. I don’t care what people say. He liked the way I played.”

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: Under the new COVID rules, can I still bring my own food to CBP? — Dave S. via email

Answer: Thanks, Dave. My guess was “yes,” and it turns out my guess is correct. Nick Vadala did some digging and talked to the Phillies’ Sal DeAngelis, one of Archbishop Ryan’s finest alums.

Here’s what Nick wrote:

Citizens Bank Park is not placing any additional restrictions on outside food. So feel free to bring a hoagie and soda if you don’t want to hit the concession stands. If you do bring food, it’s business as usual: No cans, glass bottles, or alcoholic beverages, and anything that you bring in a plastic container — like water, juice, or soda — needs to be factory sealed.

And while backpacks and bags aren’t allowed generally, you can tote your hoagie in a plastic bag, no worries. “Look, if somebody shows up with a Wawa bag with a sandwich in it, we’re not turning them away,” DeAngelis said.